Finding cheap rv campgrounds means different things to rvers. For us, there are two types of cheap rving we do – we set up shop for months in one location, and hope to find an affordable place to park our Bounder OR we are in travel mode and are trying to do it as cost effectively as possible. Both scenarios require a lot of planning, research, phone calls and reviewing.
We recently left our site in Mahomet, Illinois (a private, wooded 5 acre site we found by advertising our needs on craigslist!) to visit family over Labor Day in Effingham, Illinois. We had to stay at a campground one night to have mobile rv repair done…so “cheap” options were limited, but the next day it was family time.
When we arrived in Effingham, we stayed in our family’s driveway for the weekend. Our destination at the end of the week was Arlington Heights, Illinois, to visit my stepfather…and that involves another driveway. But we decided we wanted to take a week to enjoy ourselves during that 250 mile trek, but we didn’t want to blow a lot of money.
So this post is about THAT type of cheap camping. We’ve learned all too well that you can be a genius at frugal rving when finding an affordable site to stay at for months, then quickly blow your money by hitting the road. Why? Some of the best locations that are affordable aren’t right off the highway, advertised heavily, etc. Many times in the past few years we would be exhausted and at the mercy of an rv park ad on the highway…what a waste! You pull in late and pay $30-35, then out by morning.
This time we would consider anything “cheap” to be under $20 – which most rvers traveling between A and B know is quite reasonable. We budgeted for this “treat” to ourselves…but refused to spend a fortune. In the end, we spent a total of $64 to camp 4 nights and 5 days in 3 different sites that had at least electrical hookups, all had showers, were clean, spacious sites and just a pleasure to camp in. Not bad for not knowing the area well!
So here they are, with our own photos and brief reviews. If ever traveling in the area, be sure to give them a try!
THE 1ST AND 2ND NIGHT – Bo Wood Campground (also called Forrest W Bo Wood) – Just South Of Sullivan, Illinois – $18/NIGHT
Huge, beautiful forested park by Lake Shelbyville…got there after Labor Day weekend, so place was like a ghost town and so nice/quiet! Huge space, lots of room between sites (if other rvers had been around). Clean showers and bathrooms. Electric only sites were $18/night (no tax), if you want electric and water, it is $20/night. They have more costly full hookup sites, but they have a dump station you can use at the entrance, so we weren’t interested.
THE 3RD NIGHT – Friends Creek Conservation Area Campground – Cisco, Illinois – $18/NIGHT
This little gem isn’t advertised much – what a great place! Truly off the beaten path. Lovely hosts, hiking trails, spacious sites with plenty of elbow room between them. Clean bathroom with showers. They are electric only for $18/night. Water and dump station are available, just not in your rv site.
THE 4TH NIGHT – Gibson City Arrowsmith Park – Gibson City, Illinois – $10/NIGHT (7 day maximum per month)
This was a great find for our last night. It didn’t have the ambiance of the wooded sites, but for ten dollars it couldn’t be beat. There are a few hoops you must jump through to save the money. You need to register at the police station in town (very friendly – they post how to get there at the campsite). There you will also get the key to the shower door, which is located inside both the male and female public restrooms. The sites have electric and water and there is a dump station by the entrance. The sites are in a small horseshoe shape, so really big rigs might have trouble getting into some sites (we are 32 feet long and did fine). It is in the heart of this small town, with grocery and dining within walking distance. But expect to hear cars and see people at the park. A nice, affordable stop for passing through for one night.
Again, we chose to take a little 5 day getaway – we certainly could have driven from driveway to driveway in a day! But it was nice to stay in new places and relax. When we drive long distance, we look for sites like this PLUS make the trek cheaper alternating nights at a Walmart parking lot, Flying J, etc…But for 4 nights and 5 days at $64 total, I’d say that is pretty affordable lodging for a little “trip.”
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